Harness Your Backyard’s Sunshine With Shed Solar Panels

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated December 8, 2021
A wooden shepherd lodge
Panama / Adobe Stock

It’s time to shed light on your backyard’s solar potential

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Whether you use your backyard shed as a home office or gym—or keep it simple and use it for storage—you can harness the power of the sun with shed solar panels. Homeowners who install solar panels on a shed can generate renewable energy and reduce electricity bills.

Here’s a guide for everything you need to know about installing solar panels on a shed, including how to DIY, the pros and cons, and how much it typically costs.

Is It Worth Putting Solar Panels on My Shed?

A wood garden sheds
Marianna / Adobe Stock

If you need electricity in your shed, be it for recharging batteries, plugging in tools, or simply giving yourself some light to work, installing solar panels can save money and help the environment. If you have a large shed with a sturdy roof, it's even possible to outfit it with enough panels to supply power to your main property. 

Here’s what to consider before installing solar panels on your shed:

Your Shed’s Purpose

If you use your shed to house gym equipment, charge batteries, or plug in power tools, you'll need a fairly powerful system to cover the amount of electricity you use. Keep in mind that your lowered energy bills will offset your upfront solar installation cost. You should determine how much electricity you’ll need by figuring out how many watts and lumens you require. A 60-watt bulb emits around 750-850 lumens of light. Bring an extension cord to your shed to power a work light to figure out how many watts you need. If one bulb feels too dim, look into solar kits that offer more than 60 watts (or 850 lumens).

Here are some common shed items and the wattage they require per hour:

  • Electric drill: 600 watts

  • Table saw: 1,800 watts

  • Electric leaf blower: 2,500 watts

  • Hedge trimmer: 250 watts

  • Modem: 20 watts

  • Coffee machine: 600 watts

  • Electric heater: 2,000 to 3,000 watts

Solar Panel Kits

Solar panel kits come with everything you need to install the panels and related equipment yourself. They help take the guesswork out when determining which parts will work together; it can otherwise be challenging to match collectors, charge controllers, and batteries. 

In general, kits range in cost from $100 (just enough power to light the shed) to over $3,000 (enough energy needed for tools or charging batteries), depending on your needs. Higher-end models will likely include:

Solar collector panel: These panels convert photons into electrical currents

  • Charge controller: This device monitors the current to prevent battery damage

  • Battery: Stores the DC electricity

  • Inverter: Transforms DC electricity into AC electricity

  • AC Outlet: Plug-in tools or other items that need recharging

  • Lights: DC LED lights offer illumination and conserve the DC electricity 

Less expensive options may only come with a small solar collector panel and a light to illuminate your shed. These kits (around $100) will provide light for about one hour.

Your Shed’s Durability

Your shed's roof must be large enough and able to withstand the weight of the solar panels, especially if you require larger ones. A 250-watt panel weighs about 40 pounds and measures approximately 65 by 39 inches. Suppose your shed is old, or looks to have some roof damage. In that case, you should consider buying a new shed or repairing the roof before proceeding with a solar panel installation. FYI, your shed's roof isn't the only place you can install solar panels—you can look into ground mounts, carports, or solar pergolas and gazebos.

Hours of Sunlight

Time for a bit of math! If your shed needs 3,000 watts to function, a 250-watt panel can create up to 1,500 watts if there are six hours of sunlight. With a second panel, you’re up to 3,000. However, this assumes the panels are receiving 250 watts every hour—something that will likely only happen on days with idyllic, sunny weather. If you live in a place with less sunshine (Seattle, for instance), give yourself a buffer and install panels with 20% more wattage than you will need on average. For example, if you need those 3,000 watts, install two panels with 300 watts to provide 3,600 on those clear days. You might need to use a backup power source (such as a generator) on rainy or dark days.

Installation

Solar panel kits let homeowners go the DIY route and install panels themselves. If you opt to use a kit, be sure you're comfortable handling electrical work. If that's not your thing, consider hiring a solar contractor or an electrician specializing in solar work.

Your Budget

The more solar panels you need, the more expensive the upfront costs. DIY solar panels range greatly in price, from $100 (for 100 watts) to $20,000 (10,000 kilowatts). Hiring an electrician or solar panel contractor will cost approximately $1,000 per 2,000 kilowatts installed.

Pros and Cons of Solar Panels on Sheds

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of shed solar panels.

Pros:

  • Saves you money on your energy bill

  • Great ROI; while you’ll front money on installation, you’ll save on energy costs

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Can be a backup power source if an event like a natural disaster causes an outage

  • Can add value to your home, should you choose to sell 

  • Easy maintenance

Cons:

  • Initial investment can be costly, depending on how much power you need

  • The shed’s structure must be able to support the weight and size of the panels

Might be difficult to generate power in locations with less sun

How Much Does Solar Power Cost for a Shed?

The price to install solar panels on a shed varies greatly depending on several factors; here are a few to consider.

Power Needed

Solar panels range in cost depending on how much wattage you need. Grape Solar, a popular solar kit seller which retails in big stores such as Home Depot and Costco, sells a 300-watt kit for $355 and a 600-watt kit for just under $1,000.

Building a New Shed

Should you wish to build a new shed, expect to pay between $100 and $750 for a plastic shed kit or hire a contractor to build a custom shed for $2,000 to $3,000

Installation

Expect to pay $0.70 to $1.50 per watt; including labor, solar panel installation costs $2.50 to $3.50 per watt. You should only install panels if you own the property, or have permission from the property owner. In addition, you should check with your city and state to file any necessary permits. Finally, you should only go the DIY route if you have experience with electrical work.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.